Russia vows to defend Belarus if EU sanctions Minsk - RIA

Russian President Putin meets with his Belarusian counterpart Lukashenko in Sochi

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia will defend Belarus and help it if the European Union imposes economic sanctions on Minsk over the grounding of a plane and arrest of a dissident blogger, the RIA news agency cited a Russian foreign ministry official as saying.

Many European nations have imposed flight bans on Belarusian aviation over the forced landing of a Ryanair flight on May 23. The EU is weighing further sanctions.

(Reporting by Anton Kolodyazhnyy; writing by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Toby Chopra)